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Oscar Buzz Builds

Let the Oscar games begin!

The awards season kicks off this weekend with the Golden Globes. But that's just a teaser for the BIG prize, the Academy Awards.

The nominations will be announced in just a couple of weeks, and tongue-wagging is heating up.

On The Early Show Saturday Edition, Hollywood watcher Tom O'Neil, of the Los Angeles Times Web site, gave his take on who'll get the nods and, in some cases, the wins:


Likely nominees:
Sean Penn, "Milk"
Frank Langella, "Frost/Nixon"
Clint Eastwood, "Gran Torino"
Mickey Rourke, "The Wrestler"
Brad Pitt, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"

This contest is between Sean Penn and Frank Langella. Both portray real-life characters and Academy voters are suckers for that. In recent history, Helen Mirren won for her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth in "The Queen" and Jamie Foxx for his role as Ray Charles in "Ray." The dark-horse candidate is Clint Eastwood for "Gran Torino." Clint's always been an Academy favorite and people love this movie.

Predicted winner: Sean Penn for "Milk."


Likely nominees:
Kate Winslet, "Revolutionary Road"
Anne Hathaway, "Rachel Getting Married"
Meryl Streep, "Doubt"
Sally Hawkins, "Happy-Go-Lucky"
Angelina Jolie, "Changeling"

It's among Streep, Winslet and Hathaway. Everyone thinks Streep wins every year, but in fact she's only won twice before, and it's been more than 25 years since she took home an Oscar (for "Sophie's Choice"). Hathaway is this year's Julia Roberts: After roles in numerous Hollywood films, Hathaway decided to take on a serious role in the indie film "Rachel Getting Married." This category is really a toss-up.

But O'Neil's predicted winner: Hathaway for "Rachel Getting Married."


Likely nominees:
Heath Ledger, "The Dark Knight"
Josh Brolin, "Milk"
Dev Patel, "Slumdog Millionaire"
Robert Downey Jr., "Tropic Thunder"
Philip Seymour Hoffman, "Doubt"

It's hard to get around Heath Ledger. It's a slam-dunk for a nomination, but to assume he's going to win is to underestimate the cold heart of Hollywood. Many voters have the attitude that says, "If you're dead, you're gone. Bye-bye!" If he didn't die, I don't think there would be as much talk about him winning in this category.

Still, O'Neil's predicted winner is Ledger.


Likely nominees:
Penelope Cruz, "Vicky Cristina Barcelona"
Kate Winslet, "The Reader"
Viola Davis, "Doubt"
Marisa Tomei, "The Wrestler"
Taraji P. Henson, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"

Woody Allen's crazy characters almost always win Oscars. It's funny, though: Many older, male Oscar voters treat this category like a beauty pageant. It's shameless, but true. Cruz is a favorite overall leader for the zany character she plays in "Barcelona." Winslet is up there as well, because she'll probably also be nominated for Best Actress. And if you get nominated twice, you usually win one.

No predicted winner.


Likely nominees:
Danny Boyle, "Slumdog Millionaire"
David Fincher, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"
Gus Van Sant, "Milk"
Ron Howard, "Frost/Nixon"
Christopher Nolan, "The Dark Knight"

This is an easy one: Best Director usually goes hand-in-hand with Best Picture, so the Oscar will probably go to whoever wins the Best Picture.

No predicted winner.


Likely nominees:
"Slumdog Millionaire"
"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"
"Gran Torino"

It's a face-off between "Benjamin Button" and "Slumdog Millionaire," the big-screen Hollywood blockbuster starring Brad Pitt vs. the little British movie shot in India using unknown actors. This is classic David vs. Goliath.

No predicted winner.